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Aquaman #4
writer: Rick Veitch
artists: Yvel Guichet, Joshua Hood,
Mark Propst and Sean Parsons

Once again, Aqualad proves himself the most powerful loser in the DC Universe.

Sure, he's changed his name to Tempest. He managed to land Dolphin. He gained tremendous mad magical skills. He's still a loser.

Trying to play Merlin to Aquaman's young Arthur, our violet-eyed schmuck transforms the two into fish. It's all meant to show his former mentor just how sorcery has warped the political seascape of Atlantis, but it sure smacks of The Sword In The Stone.

However, some of you might remember that Merlin never actually got himself eaten. Garth always overestimates himself, which means that his next appearance will be spent in self-pity. Actually, Veitch brings it in at the end of this issue; maybe Tempest will be useful next time.

Many might argue the loser label goes for Aquaman himself, but no. Though Aquaman and magic may be an uneasy match at best, at least Veitch has begun bringing the sea king back to being a fun guy. He's being humbled, and that's a good thing, though paradoxically, he may be at the center of a religious cult birthing in his kingdom. For the first time in a while, he's got a subplot worth noticing.

Even with a short beard and quasi-messiah-hood, this is closer to the guy worth both a Mego action figure and membership in the Superfriends than he has been in a long time.

There. I've betrayed why he holds a special place in my heart. It's all about the Megos.


Batgirl: Year One #4
writers: Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon
artists: Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez

Perhaps to draw a parallel between modern continuity and the silly past, this issue features the dynamic duo putting Barbara Gordon to the test. In a recent Gotham Knights, Batman put The Spoiler to a similar test. The methods may have slightly changed, but in both cases, the trial simply wasn't fair.

But, and it's a believable but, Barbara Gordon wasn't Stephanie Brown. She refuses to accept the judgment made by Batman. Whether or not we accept that Barbara really has the skills, it's still stirring to see her tell Batman off, proclaiming that she wants to fight crime because she can.

Barbara also has a different Robin on her side, one that doesn't feel quite as helpless in the shadow of the bat. (At least in the regular books, Tim Drake, while extremely capable, always seems more sullen and ticked than Dick Grayson ever was.) So while Stephanie ends up crying at home, Barbara gets the none-too-subtle signal that it's okay to continue.

Even though we know her career has a tragic end, Beatty and Dixon keep this book light. Aiding them is a dynamic art team that has taken the Bruce Timm animated style and made it their own.

Cassandra may be a better fighter, a more believable heir to the mantle of the bat, but Barbara just makes for a better read.


Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #165
writer: Dwayne McDuffie
artists: Val Semeiks and Dan Green

For the sequel to "Blink," McDuffie has concocted a pretty logical fate for Lee Hyland. At first the government offered him work, using his skills for intelligence work. And because this is the DC Universe, eventually they started messing with his powers, turning Hyland into a piece of carbon-based hardware.

Quite literally an effective remote viewer, he would be quite an asset. But as we know from current events, Batman doesn't like the government taking assets that could be his own to use.

Oh, it's not quite that harsh. Really, if Batman thought of Hyland as a weapon for himself, it wouldn't have taken him so long to discover that the government had him.

But it seems like the reason Batman needs Blink is really just a macguffin. The world's greatest detective should easily be able to figure out how a baby-selling ring is working, without the aid of a human "bug."

There's also a strange ease with which the two converse that just doesn't seem like the Batman anybody else is writing. Then again, that's why they call this book Legends, not True Stories. Yeah, yeah. None of them are true anyway.

The attraction to this story is Hyland himself. McDuffie has created an interesting character who would never hold a story on his own, but makes a good foil to Batman. In a way, it feels like a throwback to the seventies, and not just because of Hyland's fashion sense.

Because we're only halfway through the arc, it's doubtful that the government has had their say with Hyland, so we can count on more action. But despite the charm of Hyland and the always enjoyable clashes with federal forces, this arc feels like filler.


Derek McCaw


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